DNA test results and other evidence have now established that an outbreak of illness involving at least 35 people, the majority children and teens, was linked to drinking unpasteurized milk. Wisconsin food safety officials are cautioning consumers not to drink raw milk and farmers not to sell it to the public.
"Laws requiring pasteurization of milk have been on the books for more than half a century, and there are good public health reasons for that," says Steve Ingham, head of the Food Safety Division in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
"We have very compelling evidence linking these illnesses to drinking raw milk,” he adds. “This is the third major outbreak in Wisconsin since 2001 that has been tied to raw milk consumption. That's not to mention a number of smaller ones in which the link was strongly suspected, but patients were unwilling to identify farms that provided the milk. So far we've been fortunate that the infections have not been life-threatening, but raw milk is an inherently risky food and it can lead to other, more dangerous illnesses, including E. coli 0157:H7 infection."
An epidemiologic investigation conducted by DATCP and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has found 35 confirmed cases of Campylobacter jejuni infection, including 21 patients under age 18. One person was hospitalized. All the patients had consumed unpasteurized milk.
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Source: Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection